Song facts: Blackbird

Blackbird is a Beatles' song written by Paul McCartney and released on The White Album in 1968. McCartney has claimed the song is an ode to the civil rights movement of the 1960s, and the lyrics can certainly be interpreted as such.  

Like most of the music from The White Album, Blackbird was written while The Beatles were in India studying meditation.  

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"I had in mind a black woman, rather than a bird. Those were the days of the civil rights movement, which all of us cared passionately about, so this was really a song from me to a black woman, experiencing these problems in the States: 'Let me encourage you to keep trying, to keep your faith, there is hope.' As is often the case with my things, a veiling took place so, rather than say 'Black woman living in Little Rock' and be very specific, she became a bird, became symbolic, so you could apply it to your particular problem." - Paul McCartney
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Recording

During the recording of The Beatles' White Album, the band were often separate from one another in different studios. On this day George Harrison and Ringo Starr were in America, leaving John and Paul to continue work on The White Album.

McCartney recorded Blackbird as a solo effort; no other member was present at this session, on June 11th 1968.

Producer George Martin and engineer Geoff Emerick accompanied McCartney as he recorded and double tracked his vocals and played a Martin D 28 acoustic guitar. Tape loops were added for the bird sounds and Paul can be heard tapping his foot on the sparse recording.

"Part of its structure is a particular harmonic thing between the melody and the bass line which intrigued me. Bach was always one of our favourite composers; we felt we had a lot in common with him... I developed the melody on guitar based on the Bach piece and took it somewhere else, took it to another level, then I just fitted the words to it." - Paul McCartney

Personnel

  • Paul McCartney – double-tracked lead vocal, acoustic guitar, tape loops, foot tapping